Vancouver Island protest against mill closures and shift reductions related to export of raw logs
Environmentalists and BC mill workers are rallying at the Long Hoh mill in Errington at noon to protest log shortages they say have led to shutdowns and shift reductions.
Protesters say the export of raw logs to other countries is impacting the supply here in B.C. causing mills to close, and reduced shifts for workers.
Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC) will be joined by the Ancient Forest Alliance at the Workers at the Long Hoh Mill to draw attention to the issue. Since last month the mill shut down and shifts were reduced, with more pending this week for the mill in Ladysmith. Close to 130 workers at both mills are affected.
Arnold Bercov, President of the PPWC, says shipping raw logs to foreign mills in the USA, China, Japan, and Korea, undermine jobs in BC. He is calling on the new government to have the "courage to address the issue" noting repeated mill closures contribute to eventual permanent mill closures.
Andrea Inness, Forest Campaigner with the Ancient Forest Alliance says the NDP government has been presented with a list of policy recommendations to help ensure a sustainable, value-added, second-growth forestry industry in BC.
Among the recommendations: increasing the export tax on second-growth raw logs; banning old-growth raw log exports; creating financial incentives for investment in second-growth mills (such as reducing stumpage fees for investment in new second-growth mills, or PST exemptions on the purchase of second-growth wood processing equipment); and facilitating eco-certified, value-added, second-growth wood products using a portion of stumpage fees.
Ken Wu, Executive Director of the Ancient Forest Alliance says the province must ensure that instead of raw log exports to foreign mills, that those logs are processed in BC mills, and that concrete regulations and incentives are put in place to ensure that this happens.
The groups say policies of the previous Liberals governments of Gordon Campbell and Christie Clark led to the closure of most coastal mills in BC, with more than 100 B.C. mills closed and 40,000 forestry jobs lost.
In July Western Forest Products closed its Somass Mill in Pt. Alberni indefinitely blmaing the decision on a lack of log supply, and uncertainty caused by duties applied to softwood lumber products going from Canada into the U.S.